1. Look at the lie of the ball in the sand. If the ball is sitting down in the sand, I won’t be able to get the club-face cleanly on the ball. I must just hit an explosion shot back into the fairway. This explosion shot is the same shot I would hit out of a green-side bunker. (Click here to read how to hit out of a green-side bunker.)
2. Determine the club I need to easily clear the lip of the bunker regardless of how far I am from the green. For example, I may be a 7-iron distance away from the green, but if the lip is high, I would rather take my pitching wedge and just get out of the bunker cleanly. Even if it leaves me well short of the green.
3. Dig my feet into the sand and take a wide stance (insides of your feet as wide as shoulders).
4. Swing smoothly and keep my eye on the ball through impact. This formula works well on any shot, but especially so on the fairway bunker shot. The key to this shot is solid contact that comes from swinging under control. If I get even a little sand between the club-face and ball at impact, my shot will not fly nearly as far as expected. Always remember: A smooth swing is an under control swing.
Do you see the value of this process for your fairway bunker shots?